How long is it? That’s a bit of a personal question, isn’t it?

The length of albums has long been a discussion that’s fascinated me.

There was a time when I wanted at least 40 minutes of music on an album, and if you were putting out a CD with just 40 minutes, you were somehow gypping your audience.

It doesn’t matter, of course. The first Beatles album to run in excess of 30 minutes was “Rubber Soul.” Frank Zappa’s early 70s jazz albums ran closer to 35 minutes. That doesn’t make the earlier Beatles albums or those Zappa efforts any lesser.

It’s music’s version of the Roger Ebert argument about movies: No good movie is too long, and no bad movie is short enough.

Nevertheless. One of the greatest joys I had when I first acquired a CD player was being able to know exactly how long each track was. It remains one of the fascinating things even as I’ve gone more digital. I love looking at the tracks’ time listings and seeing the total album running time, and guessing whether they’re worth it.

Here’s the running time for each of the top 20 albums on The Big List. Their running times, I’ve found, are largely justified.

(I got most of the times from Wikipedia, in case anything is dramatically off. I added up the totals for “The Records” and for “Marshall Crenshaw.” What the hell does Wikipedia have against power pop, anyway?)

1. “The Beatles (The White Album),” The Beatles (1968) – 93:35
2. “World So Bright,” Adam Schmitt (1991) – 44:16
3. “Blood on the Tracks,” Bob Dylan (1975) – 51:42
4. “Tonight’s the Night,” Neil Young (1975) – 44:52
5. “Underwater Moonlight,” The Soft Boys (1980) – 36:00
6. “Katy Lied,” Steely Dan (1975) – 35:25
7. “Squeezing Out Sparks,” Graham Parker (1979) – 37:18
8. “Get Happy!!,” Elvis Costello (1980) – 48:08
9. “Joe’s Garage (Acts I, II and III),” Frank Zappa  (1979) – 115:14
10. “The Records,” The Records (1979) – 37:26
 
11. “Led Zeppelin IV” (1971) – 42:25
12. “The Wall,” Pink Floyd (1979) – 81:09
13. “The Dark Side of the Moon,” Pink Floyd  (1973) – 42:59
14. “Odessey and Oracle,” The Zombies (1968) – 35:18
15. “Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere,” Neil Young  (1969) – 40:29
16. “Machine Head,” Deep Purple (1972) – 37:25
17. “Every Picture Tells a Story,” Rod Stewart (1971) – 40:31
18. “English Settlement,” XTC (1982) – 72:22
19. “Animals,” Pink Floyd  (1977) – 41:41
20. “Marshall Crenshaw” (1982) – 34:10

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